…Reiss writes that his book’s “guiding spirit and lead witness” is Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau suffered from insomnia, and his retreat, in 1845, to a simple cabin at Walden Pond was, in part, driven by a desperate need for rest. Thoreau attributed his nightly struggles to the fact that railroads and other industrial changes had disturbed the natural environment around Concord. Reiss
believes that we are victims of “the same environmentally devastating mind-set that Thoreau decried: an attitude of dominion over nature (including our own bodies) through technology and consumerism.”
As the opposite of Thoreau, emblematic of everything he was reacting against, Reiss gives us Honoré de Balzac, who, while Thoreau was in Walden, was fuelling his writing with twenty to fifty cups of coffee a day, often on an empty stomach. Balzac believed that, with caffeine, “sparks shoot all the way to the brain,” and “forms and shapes and characters rear up; the paper is spread with ink.” Balzac typically wrote between fourteen and sixteen hours a day for two decades, producing sixteen volumes of “La Comédie Humaine” within six years.
Thoreau rejected coffee as an artificial stimulant and suggested that communion with nature offered a superior high: “Who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes?”
Jerome Groopman, contributor to The New Yorker offers…
The Secrets of Sleep
Why do we need it, and are we getting enough?
Read the full article HERE